Aussie ad­mits be­ing ob­sessed and still hurt

Weekend Herald - - SPORT -

To be quite hon­est, I don’t even know if I will ever get over Ber­muda. Jimmy Sp­ithill

s spec­u­la­tion over Or­a­cle Team USA’s fu­ture in the America’s Cup swirls, skip­per Jimmy Sp­ithill has reaf­firmed his de­sire to re­main in the game.

In an in­ter­view to be aired today, the 38- year- old Aus­tralian tells New­stalk ZB’s Tony Veitch he does not want the dev­as­tat­ing 7- 1 loss to Team New Zealand in Ber­muda to be the last act of his sto­ried Cup ca­reer.

Renowned Bri­tish sail­ing scribe Bob Fisher, writ­ing for Yachts and Yacht­ing, re­ported Or­a­cle founder Larry El­li­son was set to walk away from the America’s Cup. Fisher said he got con­fir­ma­tion from Rus­sell Coutts via email. “My un­der­stand­ing is that Or­a­cle/ Larry will not be en­ter­ing,” Coutts wrote.

Sp­ithill would not be drawn on the spec­u­la­tion over El­li­son’s plans, say­ing his exit was not a “fact” – yet. “I think un­til you hear it from Larry him­self, or an of­fi­cial re­ply from Larry him­self . . . it’s prob­a­bly a fact then,” Sp­ithill told Veitch on Sport.

Re­gard­less of whether Or­a­cle Team USA will en­ter the next event, set to be in Auck­land in 2021, Sp­ithill is de­ter­mined to com­pete. “I would love to see Larry back in the game . . . ei­ther way I want back in.”

The ul­tra- com­pet­i­tive Aus­tralian, famed for his Kiwi- bait­ing an­tics dur­ing the America’s Cup press con­fer­ences, said he is still stung by the loss to Team New Zealand and even now, months later, finds him­self re­flect­ing on the four- year cam­paign and some of the de­ci­sions made.

“To be quite hon­est, I don’t even know if I will ever get over Ber­muda, but I can’t leave it like that,” said Sp­ithill. “I love the game. I’m pretty much ob­sessed with it and, for sure, my plan is to try and get back there, and I’m sure you guys would love to hear, get that Cup back off New Zealand.”

With Sp­ithill be­ing among a hand­ful of top- name Aus­tralian sailors to fea­ture in this year’s America’s Cup, there has been talk of an Aus­tralian syn­di­cate re­turn­ing to the event for the next edi­tion. But Sp­ithill deftly dodged ques­tions over whether he was in talks with po­ten­tial back­ers of an Aus­tralian syn­di­cate, say­ing everyone is play­ing the wait­ing game un­til TNZ an­nounce their plans for the 36th America’s Cup.

“A lot of peo­ple who have ei­ther been in the America’s Cup game, or po­ten­tial own­ers of founders of teams who are think­ing about com­ing back into the Cup game.

“You can’t re­ally make any of­fi­cial state­ment un­til you know where the goal posts are,” he said. “Un­til everyone gets to read and see the Pro­to­col it’s prob­a­bly un­likely that you would get too many of­fi­cial re­sponses from any­one in­ter­ested in the game.”

Team New Zealand are ex­pected to un­veil their plans for the next America’s Cup later this month fol­low­ing a com­pli­cated ne­go­ti­a­tion process with chal­lenger of record, Luna Rossa.

Some of their broader plans have al­ready been out­lined, how­ever, in­clud­ing the de­ci­sion to re­turn to a mono­hulls.

Sp­ithill, a staunch ad­vo­cate of the high- speed foil­ing cata­ma­rans that have been used in the last t wo edi­tions of the Cup, was diplo­matic when asked his views on the shift back to mono­hulls.

“If you asked any of the sailors out there, they would say the foil­ing cats were amaz­ing, in­cred­i­ble. All of us that were for­tu­nate enough to sail those AC50s are hav­ing huge with­drawals now, be­cause you take it for granted be­ing able to get out there on a boat like that . . . man, just push­ing your boat and your­self to the limit,” he said.

“But at the end of the day, what­ever my opin­ion is, the fact is we all signed up know­ing who­ever won the America’s Cup gets to shape the next event.

“That has al­ways been the case and that’s not some­thing new,” Sp­ithill told Veitch.

“What­ever hap­pens — and it sounds like it’ll be back in a mono­hull — I started my America’s Cup ca­reer in New Zealand, I’ve spent a lot of time there . . . and let’s face it, it’s just such a fan­tas­tic venue for it, be­cause peo­ple are just so into it, and so pas­sion­ate about it.” Lis­ten to Jimmy Sp­ithill’s in­ter­view with Tony Veitch at 1pm on New­stalk ZB.

Dana Jo­hannsen Kiwi- bait­ing Aussie skip­per Jimmy Sp­ithill wants to be part of an America’s Cup chal­lenge off Auck­land.

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